Student athletes at Temple University are down, but not out.
On Friday, school officials dropped a bomb: Seven of the school’s 24 intercollegiate sports would be cut as of July 1.
“They didn’t even inform our coaches. Our coaches heard about 45 minutes before we did. Before that, it wasn’t even in my mind. It was quite a shock,” said senior gymnast John Leonard.
After Temple’s board of trustees approved the cuts Friday, university officials broke the news later that day during a brief meeting in Temple’s Field House. The tears started flowing almost immediately.
On the chopping block are men’s gymnastics; men’s rowing; men’s indoor and outdoor track and field; and men’s baseball. Women’s rowing and women’s softball also will be cut.
The move is expected to save Temple about $3 million annually. The university’s annual intercollegiate sports budget is $44 million.
Leonard and other seniors will get to finish their senior seasons with their respective teams, but dozens of underclassmen won’t have that chance.
That’s hard to imagine for sophomore rower Mario DiCarlo.
“Temple crew is just a staple of my life,” said DiCarlo. “We get up every day at 5 a.m. and practice 6 to 8, go to school and then we’re at it again in the afternoon. It’s not just that I’m part of a team. It’s my life.”
All existing athletic scholarships will be honored as long as students remain academically eligible. Per NCAA rules, students who decide to transfer can do so.
Most students, though, haven’t had time to truly weigh their options yet. Final exams are taking place this week.
Sophomore gymnast Blaise Cosenza said he isn’t sure if he’ll look to compete elsewhere. He hopes an online petition can sway Temple’s administration to save his program.
“The support that we’re getting gives us a lot of confidence that we can,” said Cosenza. “But it is going to be pretty hard. But, again, building that support and showing that people support us and showing the positives of having a men’s gymnastics team at a university I think could help us in the long run.”
Nearly 20,000 people have signed petitions about the cuts.
Temple’s director of athletics, Kevin Clark, declined comment.
A difficult choice and money-saving move
In a university release about the cuts, Clark called the decision “a difficult choice,” that will allow the school to invest more in the students, staff and facilities part of the department’s remaining sports programs.
“Temple does not have the resources to equip, staff, and provide a positive competitive experience for 24 varsity sports. Continuing this model does a disservice to our student-athletes,” explained Clark. “We need to have the right-sized program to create a sustainable model for Temple University Athletics moving forward.”
University officials said the decision was also made because the school was violating a piece of Title IX that requires that the ratio of male and female student athletes closely mirror the ratio found in the university’s student body.
Clark has said the decision is final.
A total of 150 students will be affected